Sunday, July 15, 2012

Strike of the Modern Languages: Italian

I've been working on upping my abilities to read Italian lately. I've found a book I really like. For those of you who know about Lingua Latina per se Illustrata, it will look familiar. Really familiar.

Since I've primarily only seen commercially available materials for learning Italian, L’italiano secondo il «metodo natura» is like coming home again. And the differences are shocking.

L'italiano is like Lingua Latina. They're both very repetitive. Everything is in context. Many things are explained simply. Shades of meaning, while in the text, are not discussed at any length. In fact, L'italiano is even more minimalist in its approach to grammar than Lingua LatinaThe other big difference between L'italiano and other materials is that there is more Italian in the first few chapters of it than in an entire series of other materials. Or so it seems to me. 

I checked out Living Language Italian Intermediate from the library, since I thought that my skills were fairly basic and that an intermediate level was right. Apparently not. The article and verb conjugation are topics of instruction. Twelve chapters into L'italiano, and that's done. Of course at that point you've seen a lot of Italian. A lot. Living Language Italian has some short dialogs and comprehension passages. Though admittedly I only checked this out to listen (and relisten) to the audio.

I'm not maligning the Living Language offering. It looks good, just not to my style of learning.  And that's no small matter. If people are learning languages with programs like Living Language, I'm falling down somehow. (Again, I'm not maligning the program. It looks pretty solid.)

I'm beginning to realize that the only way languages come into my brain is brute force. The less recourse I have to English, the better. For what it's worth, Benny Lewis seems to take this approach too, but he's far more interested in the social and spoken end of it. If I wind up being able to speak, that's bonus points.